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Twin Peaks road closure pilot may be extended two years

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A man walks past a car parked at the top of Twin Peaks. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner 2016)

The City is poised to extend a pilot program closing half of the figure-eight road at the top of Twin Peaks for pedestrians and cyclists.

The pilot began in 2016 and was originally slated to expire in 2018, but now could be extended to 2020 pending a vote Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors.

SFMTA staff wrote in a report to the agency that the Recreation and Parks Department needs to extend the pilot program two more years “to conduct additional outreach and finalize recommendations for permanent modifications to Twin Peaks Boulevard,” including finalizing concept designs and pursuing construction funding.

SEE RELATED: Transit board to vote on partial Twin Peaks car closure

In 2016, Twin Peaks Boulevard’s eastern portion was closed to vehicles, in an effort to give walkers and cyclists easier access to the summit’s stunning views of downtown San Francisco, the Mission, the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. The closure did not stop vehicle access to Christmas Tree Point, a popular tourist spot known for its binocular-enhanced views.

The one-way western portion of Twin Peaks Boulevard became a two-way street. Dona Crowder, president of the Twin Peaks Improvement Association, said that forces vehicles visiting the view site to navigate treacherously around large tour buses — a dangerous proposition.

“Having people go head-to-head is not safe,” Crowder said. Members of her group, which represents 200 or so neighbors, have railed against the street closure in public meetings, she said.

“You couldn’t get neighbors off the subject,” Crowder said. “They haven’t liked it from the start.”

Yet SFMTA staff argued the road is safe, and wrote in a report that “staff found that the Pilot Project provides safe and efficient operations along Twin Peaks Boulevard for all users.” One of the power point slides in the staff presentation to the SFMTA board was entitled “Pilot has been successful!”

The number of vehicles driving more than 30 miles per hour has dropped 77 percent and “parking supply remains relatively unchanged” except for several “informal” parking spaces, SFMTA staff wrote in a report. Vehicle circulation at Twin Peaks also remains “relatively” unchanged, staff wrote. While tour bus operators objected to the changes at first, complaints were not received after the project began.

SFMTA surveys show more than 58 percent of 433 people surveyed online from July 2016 to July 2017 support making the closure permanent. The SFMTA board will discuss the matter at its 1 p.m. regular meeting Tuesday at City Hall, in room 400.

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